Israel's rental market is fairly competitive, and there is a high rate of turnover. Listings do not last long in the rental market, but new listings will come continuously onto the market. As a result, there are many places to rent at a broad range of prices. Pay attention to advertisements and act quickly when you find a suitable apartment.
A typical three room apartment in Jerusalem has an average cost of 4,500 shekels per month (in the city centre). The Tel Aviv real estate market is generally more expensive, a three room apartment can cost anywhere from 6,500 to 8,000 shekels a month. Haifa's market is cheaper and rent for a three room apartment ranges from 3,500 to 4,250 shekels a month (prices are from 2012 listings).
Finding a place to rent
Apartments are listed in daily newspapers, internet databases and with real estate agents. The Jerusalem Post offers real estate classifieds in English and Hebrew. Israel-specific databases include Flathunting and A to Z Israel. These sites are in English.
Online portals are especially useful for apartment-seekers abroad. They will give you a feel for areas and prices, and in some cases will help you find a place to rent while still abroad. Be wary of some internet advertisements however, because what you see online is not always what you actually get.
If possible, tenants should see the apartment before signing a contract. Seeing the apartment gives you an idea of the neighbourhood, the apartment size, the noise level and the amount of light in the apartment. You may also evaluate your prospective landlord and ask any additional questions you have, e.g. about pet and smoking policies.
Advertisements give you very little information about rental properties. They usually tell you the number of rooms and any special amenities the apartment has, such as parking. Be sure to ask if the apartment has a solar water heater (dud shemesh), which will save you money on your gas bills. You might also want to check if the apartment has an elevator (maalit), a balcony (mirpeset) or air conditioning (mazgan).
Israel does not require advertisements to include prices. In many cases, rental prices for a given apartment can be higher than you expect.
Real estate agents also list rental apartments and homes. Many agents speak English and will help you find an apartment to rent in Israel. However, they will usually charge a large commission for using their services (sometimes as much as a month's rent if you need a small, cheap apartment).
Property managers also have listings. They take care of properties while a resident is gone and sublet to tenants. Property managers are reliable and will assist you in finding a rental, particularly if you do not speak Hebrew. Using a property manager is a good option for tourists who need vacation accommodations. However, they will charge a fee for using their services.
There are two ways landlords measure apartment size: bruto and netto. Bruto measurement includes space in the closet, the cupboards, and the hallways. Netto space includes the major rooms (e.g. bedrooms, the salon). Kitchen and bathrooms are not included in netto calculation. If possible, look at the apartment before signing a contract. This way, you will know exactly how much space you have.
Some landlords are religious and will only rent to people who keep Shabbat (the Jewish holy day) or if they keep a kosher kitchen. Your landlord might ask if you are shabbes, which means that you observe Shabbat. Ask your prospective landlord if he expects his tenants to keep Jewish religious laws.
You may have similar experiences trying to find flatmates. Some flats are advertised as religious, which means that the residents follow Jewish laws or keep a kosher kitchen. If you do not want to keep a kosher kitchen or live religiously, then you should look for non-religious flatmates.
Students should not have a problem finding a place to live in many of the major cities. Many universities help students find accommodation, and they often have online housing lists and databases. Landlords will let or sublet apartments for a few months or a year.